by Harry Palmer
A Short History
The initial seed of speculation that launched the Thoughtstorm® project in 1986 dropped out of a discussion on how organisms evolve different adaptations in their competition to survive. Some creatures depend upon natural colorations for camouflage, others survive by fleetness of foot or fin, others by the force of tooth and claw. Probably you can think of many other adaptations that species have evolved in their competition to dominate and survive, but the most powerful of all adaptations is the ability to think. In a few millennia, thinking has achieved virtual domination for any species that has evolved and employed it.
Could thinking be improved? Does it have potential still to be unlocked? How vital is it for us to unlock this potential? In the endless churning of evolution, time and events not only test the immediate survival value of each species' adaptations, but they test the long-range consequences as well.
Turning the adaptation that permitted the human species to survive and dominate other species into a mechanism for competition among members of our own species may be the wrong turn that leads to self-extinction.
Thinking could yet join the anonymous club of adaptations that fail the long-term test. Our ironic epitaph: Humankind, destroyed by its ability to survive.
Thus the initial seed of speculation was this: Are there more effective (rational, cooperative, compassionate) ways of thinking? Methods whose long-term consequences will not lead to oblivion? That is how the first discussion session, the genesis of Thoughtstorm, began.
Seven people were invited to meet in a library conference room to participate in a research project. As the host, I read them the following statement:
"It is demonstrably true that the output power of a single source can be aligned with the output power of another source and end up with more total power than either source is capable of producing alone. For example: multi-engine aircraft, banks of power generators, teams of horses, packs of dogs, the strands of a rope, etc.
"The question is, Can this same alignment principle be applied to human thinking?"
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Why Thoughtstorm Works
Somewhere below the ultimate truth of pure being, which is undefinable and inexpressible, are the fundamental assumptions and reference points that lay the foundation of the mind. You will discover that these archetypal assumptions and reference points are remarkably similar in all people. In Thoughtstorm these archetypes of mind are called corecepts, meaning the core concepts of a mental aggregate through which each of us creates, perceives, and interprets realities.
Each mind's aggregates are unique in their outward appearance and effect, but their cores are similar, if not identical. Personal experience with the world builds these aggregates, layer upon layer: decisions, assumptions, judgments, reactions, attitudes, beliefs, pains, emotions, and other mental phenomena. The realities that we comprehend through these aggregates of mind are often far removed from the true nature of things as they actually exist and interact. For instance, we may interpret another's actions as threatening and ill-intended when, in fact, they are not. Brushing at a fly seems like a threatening gesture. A misunderstood greeting seems like a verbal slur.
Our aggregates tend to indoctrinate us into one view of reality, one interpretation of what is perceived. Right and wrong enter the picture, and thinking becomes combative. To the individual, these mental aggregates are invisible and unsuspected. They are passed off as facets of personality or character. They are often invested with great importance.
The hazard of these mental aggregates is that they fix an individual's thinking into a narrow range of possibilities. They obscure the real causal nature of experiences and events, i.e., what really causes what. The crux of intelligent thinking is the ability to discover the causal nature of things. Why did that happen? What caused it to happen? How can it be caused to happen again? What will prevent it from happening again? What will doing this cause?
When individuals try to answer these questions, the aggregates distort perception and translate thinking into personal paradigms that can be totally unreflective of how things actually operate. Excuses, blame, and faulty explanations substitute for understanding. Success and failure become more matters of luck than matters of predictable consequence.
Each mind's aggregates are unique in their outward appearance and effect, but their cores are similar, if not identical.
Individuals, particularly individuals from different backgrounds, have different layers in their mental aggregates—different personal experiences, different beliefs, different attitudes. These different layers cause different distortions in interpretation, so individuals are not naturally inclined to agree. In Thoughtstorm, this fact keeps groups from reaching agreement on their individual distortions of reality. It also allows them, as they push for agreement, to uncover the corecepts they hold in common. The corecepts are a deeper, broader comprehension of reality.
In the process of Thoughtstorming, the individual's personal distortions of reality are washed away. Providing the Thoughtstorm has occurred in alignment and has not been dominated by one or another's opinion, a fundamental understanding of how things actually operate surfaces.
As with the individual mind, a collective Thoughtstorm mind functions best when it has direction and purpose—a will, if you will. In a Thoughtstorm, one member assumes the role of pilot and takes volitional responsibility for steering the group.
The pilot asks the group to address a specific area where the causal nature of an event, circumstance, or condition has been obscured. The superficial explanations and ideas of the group are expressed, and the twisting and reforming process toward agreement is begun. A deliberation. The more aligned and agreeable the group becomes, the more effortless the process.
Insights are expressed as the group moves toward the true causal nature of the subject—the corecept. When the corecept is reached and put into words, there is sudden group agreement. In some way the corecept answers or explains everyone's levels of misunderstanding. Cognition.
Experiencing a Thoughtstorm will make this more clear.
If you are interested in experiencing an online Thoughtstorm group connect with your local Avatar Master.
The Thoughtstorm Manual is available as a softcover book or as a PDF download, in 11 languages, from the AvatarBookstore.